Posted on Apr 3rd, 2012 at 2:02 PM

By Larry Coppock

Recently, I conducted an Amachi organization meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the eighteenth meeting of its kind conducted over two years in selected annual conferences. Amachi is an African word that means ‘Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.’ It is a program of Big Brothers Big Sisters, one of our youth agency partners. The word 'Amachi' also implies that the child or ‘little’ has a parent (s) that is in jail or prison. Research has shown that children of an incarcerated parent have a 70% probability rate of following them into a life of crime without intervention, or a mentor.

Two Human Relations Day grants, administered by the General Board of Church and Society, underwrote the cost of travel/related expenses to initiate the project. The purpose of the meetings was to introduce this one-on-one mentoring model to the men’s leadership in 18 annual conferences. The primary aim was two-fold: (1) Identify an Amachi Coordinator to promote the ministry beyond the grant term and (2) Identify 2-4 churches in which to recruit mentors, i.e., Big Brothers/Big Sisters. African American males are at higher risk, therefore, the focus has been on the recruitment of men.

In the meetings, I was able to share my own story of mentoring Calvin, a young African American boy. When we started he was 10; now he’s 15. I strongly believed then as I do now, that in order to promote this ministry I needed to be actually involved. Calvin is my third ‘little.’ I must say that while I hope and pray that Calvin will reap some meaningful benefit from our bi-weekly outings, I receive back much more than I give. Calvin provides for me a little brother that I never had when I was growing up. Many of our activities reflect brotherly actions and fellowship.

My prayer is one of thanks, that United Methodist men are making a difference in many of these conferences. My prayer of hope is that many of the conferences where we have not been will reach out and initiate an Amachi ministry by being a ‘Big.’ You’ll find the experience truly rewarding.